EARLIER this year we featured a number of old pubs in the Manchester Road area, which sparked readers’ memories of places now long gone.

Here, pub historian Paul Jennings looks in more detail at one of those pubs; one that occupied a small place in Bradford’s history - and further afield.

Writes Paul: “The Yorkshire Divan opened as a beerhouse towards the end of the 1830s at the junction with Gate Street. This was on the right-hand side, leaving Bradford and opposite Gower Street where the Fleece stood, not far from Bowling Old Lane.

This was a time when this area was being rapidly developed as part of Bradford’s industrial growth. It was also a time of great social and political upheaval.

This year we are remembering the bicentenary of the Peterloo massacre in Manchester; a demonstration for the reform of Parliament at which many peaceful protestors were killed or wounded by soldiers.

In the 1830s and 40s Bradford was a centre for another reform movement - Chartism, after the Charter demanding six key changes, including one man one vote and the secret ballot. In June 1848, the so called physical force wing of the movement, as it advocated violence to achieve its goals, triggered a rising in the town, centred on lower Manchester Road, which ultimately needed troops to disperse the crowds.

As part of the repression which followed, the Yorkshire Divan was searched in August in a general trawl of Chartist ‘club rooms’, although nothing was found, according to the Bradford Observer.

And herein is perhaps the source of the pub’s rather curious name, since a divan was originally an oriental council of state and hence more generally a political meeting.

Ten years later the pub bore witness to an important social change of these years. In 1857 divorce had been made possible without the need for obtaining an act of Parliament. Women had also been given the right to their own property, it previously having gone to the husband.

Under the new law the then landlady Elizabeth Barker successfully sought to hang on to furniture which she had actually bought after her husband had left her.

My photograph here dates from the 1920s, by which time, as can be seen, it was a House of Heys, the Bradford brewer. The landlord, Alfred Worsman, was licensee at various times of several other Bradford pubs.

Edgar Wheelwright’s signwriting business is next door. It was still a beerhouse then and did not gain a full licence until 1961. But by this time the writing was on the wall for old Manchester Road and the building, along with many others, was soon to be demolished in the wholesale redevelopment of the area and the construction of a major new road.

A photograph taken towards the end shows that the door to the right had been blocked up and the pub extended into the shop. The surrounding terraced housing was now gone and high-rise flats instead stood behind it.”

* Paul Jennings is the author of Bradford Pubs and The Local: A History of the English Pub.